Philosophy question: serve reception scoring

One of the things I started doing while coaching at Svedala was incorporate more competitive servers vs. passers games. I discussed that in this log entry, Basically, I put the three primary passers (Libero plus the two OHs) out receiving against the rest of the team. Each server gets 2 serves. The goal of the passers was to average a pass rating of 2.0.

For example, let’s say I have 7 servers. At 2 balls each, that’s 14 total serves. To average a 2.0 the passers need to collect a total of 28 passing points based on the rating of each pass.

We played the game probably half a dozen times the first week I used it and the passers won all about one of them. That struck me as unusual given that on the season our passing average is below 2.0 and our team is one of the best in the league at serving.

Thinking about that, I realized what was happening. In my scoring I counted a missed serve as a 3-pass. In determining the match stats, though, missed serves are not counted.

Should we count missed serves toward pass ratings?

That led me to wonder a couple of things.

First, if missed serves counted as 3 points, what would the equivalent be of a 2.0 average pass rating? I don’t want to have the missed serves not count because I want the game to apply to the servers as well. If they can just go back and let it rip with no consequences it doesn’t help their development.

Second, if we include missed serves into our team passing rating for matches, what would our target rating be? Most teams say 2.0 on the 3-point scale when excluding missed serves.

That second point has me really wondering. One of the things I talk with my teams about is setting up serve reception not just to put our best passers in place to take the first ball, but also to put the opposing server under some pressure. Give them a different look. Make them aim for a small area of the court if they’re targeting a specific passer. Give the appearance of something being open or not open. That kind of thing. Missed serves should really factor into looking at serve reception effectiveness from that perspective.

Something to contemplate.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman

John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women’s team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women’s professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women’s Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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